TAIWAN: Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian nominates his former chief of staff, Su Tseng-chang, to be premier of a...
- Title: TAIWAN: Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian nominates his former chief of staff, Su Tseng-chang, to be premier of a new cabinet.
- Date: 19th January 2006
- Summary: NEWS CONFERENCE
- Reuters ID: LVAEAR08LE0FS4SPEU7SOUNWBHEV
- Duration: 00:00:05
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Story Text: Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian nominated his former chief of staff, Su Tseng-chang, to be premier of a new cabinet on Thursday (January 19), weeks after adopting a tougher policy stance towards rival China.
Su, ex-chairman of the ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and one of its frontrunners for the 2008 presidential race, replaces Frank Hsieh, who will formally step down with the entire cabinet on Monday (January 23).
Analysts said Chen handpicked the popular Su in a bid to shore up his own poor approval rating, which had plummeted to a record low amid voter disappointment with his administration and a corruption scandal involving a former aide.
"Former chairman Su has striven hard from the tip of Taiwan to its tail, and has built a strong administrative record and immense popularity, just like a shining light bulb. His wisdom, experience and personal integrity has passed the strict test. I am confident and I hope the people of Taiwan will be confident with the highest expectation to the new cabinet," Chen told a news conference.
Chen is struggling to avoid becoming a lame duck, analysts said, after the pro-independence DPP was crushed by the more China-friendly Nationalist Party (Kuomintang or KMT) in elections for local government chiefs last December.
Under Taiwan's political system, the democratically elected president appoints the premier, who forms the cabinet and runs day-to-day government. Chen is head of the military and sets policy towards China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province.
"I'm willing to shoulder this heavy responsibility and face this challenge, to walk straight, do concrete things and serve the country and people. I will not let the President be disappointed, neither the expectation from 23 million of the people in Taiwan. Let's work together for a better future of Taiwan," said fifty-eight-year-old Su.
Affectionally nicknamed "light bulb" by his supporters on account of his bald head, Su enjoys grassroots support in Taiwan after having been magistrate of the important Taipei county in the north and Pingtung county in the south.
Su was also secretary-general of the presidential office under Chen and chairman of the DPP, a post he resigned from in December to take responsibility for the poor election showing.
"I believe the future of Taiwan is holding on the hands of 23 million people of Taiwan, not any of the political party or outsider could determine our future. There is no room for pessimism," said Su.
The news of Su's appointment had little impact on financial markets as analysts said there were unlikely to be major government policy changes under Su.
In his New Year address, Chen warned that Taiwan's economy should not be too dependent on China, in comments widely perceived to herald a tightening of economic policy towards the mainland.
Su has been relatively moderate in his public statements on China, having backed Chen's policies but refrained from using harsh rhetoric against Beijing while serving as DPP chairman.
Like his predecessors, Su is likely to continue to face obstruction in the opposition-dominated parliament, analysts said. The KMT opposes Taiwan independence and favours closer ties with China.
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